Pimples on your butt can be uncomfortable, not to mention a little embarrassing, but butt pimples are normal. Way more normal than you think. In most cases, what you see as acne is actually folliculitis, inflammation of hair follicles. It’s especially common among men since we have a larger amount of terminal (i.e. thick, course) hair on our bodies compared to women. “The thicker and wider the follicle, the more prone it is to getting infected,” says New York city-based dermatologist Robert Finney, MD.
Most butt bumps are caused by a buildup of bacteria due to sweat and moisture which gets lodged in the hair follicles. “Butt acne is typically more noticeable in warmer summer months,” says Los Angeles-based dermatologist Michael Kassardjian, DO, when things can get swampy. But it can happen year round and you don’t have to be especially active to get it. Some dermatologists, like Dr. Finney, have noticed an increase in patients complaining about butt acne due to pandemic-related lockdowns and work-from-home orders. “I think sometimes people don’t shower as much” when they don’t have to leave the house, he theorizes.
Exfoliate the Area
Glytone Exfoliating Body Wash
“I like to have guys use a benzoyl peroxide wash or soap on the buttocks and back if they are experiencing breakouts,” says Dr. Rossi. Benzoyl peroxide, a common acne-fighting ingredient, is antibacterial and will help clear acne and folliculitis-causing bacteria away from pores and the surface of the skin.
Other proven acne-fighting acids can help as well. “Glycolic acid is good because it’s a strong exfoliator,” says Dr. Finney. “When there is sweat and clothes rubbing against skin, it can lead to the follicle getting blocked and bacteria getting trapped in there. Glycolic acid keeps the channels open.” Salicylic acid, another exfoliator found in Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash, can help as well. He recommends steering clear from harsh scrubs, however. “Scrubs can help with some of the clogs, but can be irritating,” he says. “Alpha and beta hydroxy acids [like glycolic and salicylic acids] can do it in a gentler and more controlled manner.” Look for body washes that contain either and use them a few times a week till the bumps clear up.
Use a Spot Treatment
Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment
Just like on your face, a spot treatment isn’t a magic bullet, but it does help. That’s because the same ingredients used to fight acne on your face, like glycolic and salicylic acids or benzoyl peroxide, can help with folliculitis as well, says Dr. Finney. Apply these spot treatments to specific pimples a couple of times a day just like you would to pimples on your face.
Use Compresses to Help Alleviate Pain
Sometimes, the bumps on your butt can get a little painful, especially if they’re deeply rooted beneath the surface. “If it’s a deep red nodule coming up from underneath the skin, you can try using warm compresses for 15 minutes several times a day to try to reduce the inflammation,” says Rajani Katta, MD, author of Glow: The Dermatologist’s Guide to a Whole Foods Younger Skin Diet. If it’s coming to a head, a warm compress can also help alleviate the pressure and help “get it to start to work it’s way out,” says Dr. Finney.
Pop Butt Pimples With Caution
Popping “can lead to hyperpigmentation and scarring. Additionally, you’re more likely to drive more bacteria into your skin, causing more inflammation, making the situation even worse,” says Dr. Kassardjian. Using a warm compress, as noted above, could help gently pop it, but it’s better to err on the side of caution and keep your hands off.
There’s another reason to not mess with a butt pimple: it could be something else. “A furuncle, which is usually caused from staph, is an infection of a bunch of follicles next to one another,” says Dr. Finney. And unlike pimples, these stick around. “If you have a pimple that pops out, but is not resolving and is very painful and red,” it could be a more serious infection that a dermatologist would have to prescribe oral antibiotics to clear up. When in doubt, see a doctor.
Moisturize With the Right Stuff
CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion
It’s possible to have sensitive or dry skin and butt acne since most butt pimples are caused by inflammation of the hair follicles and not excess oil. If you have bumps on your butt, you can (and should) continue to moisturize. “Stay away from heavier stu